Deborah Conner,
Interim Associate Pastor for Outreach

So, how is 2023 going for you? Did you make resolutions or set goals for the new year? How successful have you been so far? 92% of people who set New Year’s goals never actually achieve them. I know because I have been in that 92% more than once!

This year my family decided, by common consent, that we would be kind. Not just to each other, but in general. We got off to a rocky start with each other, but now that we are back in our regular routines, we are doing better. Kindness is easier than we thought, and it certainly takes a lot less energy than being stressed and bothered all the time. In the larger culture, there isn’t much focus on being kind.

I’ve noticed a huge emphasis on weight-loss programs which is common this time of year. My favorite online ad is the one that advertises “you don’t need to exercise or diet – just take this one pill every day and the fat melts away”.  I wish!

How many of us think that by doing nothing we will change? There are times to do nothing (if it will help the situation or person) but mainly when we do nothing; nothing happens. The same is true for cultivating a spiritual life and following Jesus. These are not goals to achieve but ways to live. It’s how we bring our full selves to the precious life we have been given.

Are you wondering who God is calling you to be and what God is calling you to do? You are not alone. All of us have moments of inspiration when we are determined to follow Jesus more closely. We might do well for a time, but then the old habits creep back in. This is why community is so important. Community is the place where we support and encourage one another along the way.

Last week someone forwarded an old Facebook post to me written by Neale Donald Walsch:

“Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that. You cannot hold onto the old, all the while declaring that you want something new. There is only one way to bring in the new. You must make room for it.”

Is there anything old you are hanging on to that needs to go in order for there to be room for the new things God wants to accomplish in your life? How often have we been willing to follow Jesus only if we can set the agenda? Following requires surrender – a giving up of our plans to discover God’s plans. This doesn’t mean we do nothing, but it does mean our priorities may change.

Jesus doesn’t give us a to-do list of things for us to accomplish. He describes a way of life in which humility is valued more than pride, gentleness is valued more than success, and mercy and forgiveness are gifts freely given without condition. We are asked to adopt these values but living them out is a challenge. It requires a desire to be transformed by God in Christ – a desire given to us by God that we can’t force.

We are invited to make room for Jesus. When we do our lifelong mission will change. Are you ready to begin such a journey of exploration? The start of a new year gives us the opportunity to decide what is worth keeping and what needs to go.

What are your resolutions for a spiritual journey in 2023?